Ryan Lochte made a lot of changes after the 2012 London Olympics, where he walked away with five medals. He won gold in the 400m individual medley on the first day of competition, plus one more gold, two silvers and a bronze.
He lived the Hollywood lifestyle for a while, appearing on 30 Rock, 90210, late-night shows and his own series, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?
He made red carpet appearances with his flashy shoes and sparkly grill.
In the fall of 2013, Lochte left Gainesville, Florida – where he had trained since 2002 – in favor of Charlotte, North Carolina. He likened the move to being a big fish in a small pond in Gainesville to being a more mature version of himself. He began partying less, skateboarding, surfing and playing basketball less, and he and his dog Carter started watching more movies (their favorite is “Frozen”). He even dropped his signature “Jeah!” from his vocabulary (mostly).
Then, he injured his knee during a fan encounter. His new coach, David Marsh, helped him stay focused on the future and getting back in the water. When Marsh – nicknamed the “mad scientist” of swimming – was named head coach of the women’s Olympic team in Rio, Lochte said the mood at practiced changed.
“He feels like he has something to prove,” Lochte said. “And it’s brutal. I pull my hair out. I’m getting more gray hairs because of it. He’s so intense now with everything. Not just the practices itself, it’s like his attitude.”
Maybe in an effort to prevent any more gray hairs from showing through, Lochte recently dyed his hair before departing for the Olympic Village in Rio.
He’s been back on track since the injury. Lochte hired LeBron James’ former personal chef to rehabilitate his diet. Lochte now eats greens for the first time in his life and started skipping fast food. But he never misses Friday night pizza and wings, a Lochte family tradition.
He won his fourth consecutive World title in the 200m IM. Lochte and Marsh cooked up a new turn, which Lochte debuted at Worlds, but it was later ruled illegal to use in the IM by FINA, the international swimming governing body.
His 2016 Olympic program will mirror that of his 2004 Athens debut: He’ll only swim the 200m individual medley and the 4x200m freestyle relay. Two more Olympic medals could bring Lochte’s total to 13, which would make him the second most-decorated U.S. Olympian of all time – behind none other than Michael Phelps.